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Crooked thinking over rail safety

The Paddington rail disaster should not skew our spending priorities

By Ben Rogers   November 1999

Most of us believe in the sanctity of life. We subscribe to the sixth commandment: “Thou shalt not kill,” but add more vaguely, “thou shalt not place a price on life, either.” There is something repulsive in the suggestion that any amount of money could compensate for the death of a loved one.

It is not just life that we treat in this way. We say of certain works of art or animal species, that they are “invaluable,” that their worth cannot be captured in the profane discourse of costs and benefits. Values are “incommensurable”-no gain in one thing can…

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